This is a collection of what I deem to be the best instrumentals from 1956 - 1963, ranked from #1 to #20.
 

The Elvis Era was the golden age of the instrumental. Dee jays operating in a top forty format liked them because they could be shortened with a fade out in order to fit in commercials. Some, like "Let's Go" by The Routers were fast moving rock and roll. Others, such as "Sleep Walk" by Santo & Johnny were made for slow dancing. And others, such as Mongo Santamaria's "Watermelon Man" were pure R&B. And, of course, there were the classic orchestral sounds such as Roger Williams' "Autumn Leaves."

The top two instrumentals would most likely fall in the category of orchestral, and it is no coincidence that they are also two of the top three "romance" songs on the Elvis Era list. The Ventures' "Walk, Don't Run" at #3 fits better into the rock and roll genre. "Green Onions" by Booker T. & The M.G.'s is the best example of an R&B instrumental in the top ten.

Floyd Cramer is the only artist to double up in the top twenty with "Last Date" and "On the Rebound."

There are other instrumentals that I would also give an A+ rating, but to continue to split hairs and rank them is too taxing an effort -- therefore they are listed in alphabetical order.

A Swingin' Safari by Billy Vaughn 8/11/1962 #13
Bongo Rock by Preston Epps 6/1/1959 #14
Cast Your Fate To The Wind by Vince Guaraldi Trio 2/9/1963 #22
Days Of Wine And Roses by Henry Mancini 3/2/1963 #33
Exodus by Ferrante & Teicher 11/28/1960 #2
Let's Go by The Routers 11/24/1962 #19
Lisbon Antigua by Nelson Riddle 12/31/1955 #1
Maria Elena by Los Indios Tabajaras 10/12/1963 #6
Midnight in Moscow by Kenny Ball 2/17/1962 #2
Never On Sunday by Don Costa 8/29/1960 #19
One Mint Julep by Ray Charles 3/27/1961 #8
Our Winter Love by Bill Pursell 2/16/1963 #9
Patricia by Perez Prado 6/23/1958 #1
Percolator by Billy Joe & The Checkmates 2/17/1962 #10
Perfidia by The Ventures 11/14/1960 #15
Peter Gunn by Ray Anthony 1/19/1959 #8
Pipeline by The Chantays 4/6/1963 #4
Quiet Village by Martin Denny 4/27/1959 #4
Rinky Dink by Dave “Baby” Cortez 8/11/1962 #10
Smokie (pt. 2) by Bill Black Combo 12/22/1959 #17
Take Five by Dave Brubeck 9/25/1961 #25
Teen Beat by Sandy Nelson 9/14/1959 #4
Telstar by The Tornadoes 11/17/1962 #1
The Happy Organ by Dave "Baby" Cortez 3/30/1959 #1
The Stripper by David Rose Orchestra 6/2/1962 #1
Tonight by Ferrante & Teicher 11/13/1961 #8
Topsy II by Cozy Cole 9/29/1958 #3
Walk On The Wild Side by Jimmy Smith 6/9/1962 #21
Washington Square by The Village Stompers 10/5/1963 #2
Watermelon Man by Mongo Santamaria 4/11/1963 #10
Wild Weekend by The Rockin' Rebels 1/26/1963 #8

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